College lifts suspension on conservative group

Turning+Point+USAs+booth+in+the+2+Boylston+Place+alley.

Photo: Camilo Fonseca

Turning Point USA’s booth in the 2 Boylston Place alley.

By Frankie Rowley, Deputy Express Editor

Emerson lifted a suspension of the college’s Turning Point USA chapter this month, allowing the conservative organization to resume on-campus activities weeks after drawing backlash for promotional material perceived as Sinophobia. 

The initial suspension, which came after the group passed out stickers that read “China kinda sus” [sic] in reference to the video game “Among Us,” has since been rescinded after college officials concluded an investigation into alleged bias-related behavior and invasion of privacy. Under its suspension, the organization and its members were prohibited from hosting meetings, tabling events, and reserving on-campus spaces. 

In the wake of the controversy, some students questioned whether the organization should have a place on campus at all. 

“I was kind of surprised it was approved just because Turning Point’s whole thing is to trigger liberals,” said Noah Schulte, a junior political communications major, in October. “[The college] should be doing everything they can to punish these students because what they were doing was blatantly racist.”

The stickers, and the college’s reaction to the event, sparked controversy among both Emerson students and national commentators—both critical of and supporting the organization. In particular, the incident drew the attention of conservative media outlets such as the National Review, as well as organizations such as the Foundation for Individuals Rights in Education, that criticized the college’s reaction as an infringement on free speech.

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In a statement to The Beacon, Steinbaugh said that although the stickers “may be upsetting or hurtful to some,” FIRE disagreed with the college’s handling of the incident. 

“We’re glad that Emerson lifted the suspension of the group, but it should not have suspended them in the first place and should not impose any form of formal sanction now,” he said. “Interim suspensions are intended to prevent immediate threats to security and public safety. This was an abuse of that authority.”

The college has not publicly disclosed the results of its review, nor did it announce to students that TPUSA would be allowed to resume activities on campus. 

Jenna Coviello, program coordinator at the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, declined to comment on the suspension or further details about the matter. She stated that the college had “communicated directly with the organization about its status.” 

The organization, which describes itself as a space for open political discourse, hosted its first post-suspension event in the 2 Boylston Place alley on Wednesday. Titled “Israel has the right to exist, prove me wrong,” group members encouraged passersby to debate the conflict between Israel and Palestine. President Sammi Neves, an international student from Brazil, held a sign reading “I Heart ISR.”

Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Jim Hoppe said he only hoped the incident, and the ensuing suspension, taught something to the club’s members. 

“They’ve been advised and hopefully, as with any kind of process, there’s learning that takes place,” Hoppe said.

Emerson’s Turning Point USA branch could not be reached for comment on this article.